Beard transplants are riding a wave of popularity. It’s a sudden and explosive thing! Look at this chart I got from Google Trends. It shows that searches for beard transplants started a few years ago, and went viral January of 2014.
I used to not think highly of beard transplants, but I have changed my mind. People get beard implants for any number of reasons, including covering up scars or filling in a bald patch. I wanted to educate myself a bit more, so I approached Dr. Alan J. Bauman of the Bauman Medical Group, who specializes in hair restoration.
He graciously consented to an interview, and gave us some photos of his beard transplants. Read on to learn more about how beard transplants work, including how much they cost.
Interview with Dr. Bauman
Brandon: How many beard transplants have you personally performed?
Dr. Bauman: I’ve performed hundreds of transplants to and from beards over my 17-year career.
Brandon: What age of men are most interested in beard transplants?
Dr. Bauman: There is no one specific age. I’ve seen ages 25 to 65.
Brandon: Could you summarize how the procedure works in a few sentences?
Dr. Bauman: During a beard hair transplant, (like a scalp hair or eyebrow transplant), we harvest hair follicles from the back of the scalp and implant them into the facial hair areas: mustache, goatee, beard, or side-burn areas. Hair follicles are individually harvested using NeoGraft FUE, which is a minimally-invasive method, so there’s no linear scar in the scalp.
Click to enlarge – Photo of harvesting area, left side, 24-hours after the procedure was performed. Beard hair was taken from the under-beard, which grew in thick, to thicken up a patchier area. Photo by Alan Bauman. Used with permission.
Brandon: Do you find most men need a full beard transplant, or just a few small patches filled in?
Dr. Bauman: It varies. Most men need small “touchups” to fill in a gap or scar; others are looking to significantly modify an existing beard.
Brandon: What parts of the body make good donor areas for beard transplants?
Dr. Bauman: We only take donor follicles from the scalp.
Brandon: Does the follicle you remove from the donor area ever grow back there?
Dr. Bauman: Never. The hair transplant process always permanently redistributes the follicles. “Follicles are neither created nor destroyed” in the process, as we often say.
Click to enlarge – Photo of harvesting area, right side, 24-hours after the procedure was performed. Beard hair was taken from the under-beard, which grew in thick, to thicken up a patchier area. Photo by Alan Bauman. Used with permission.
Brandon: Is the procedure painful? What is the recuperation time like?
Dr. Bauman: Modern beard hair transplants are performed painlessly using local anesthesia. 90% of patients do not need any pain medications after the operation. Cosmetic healing takes about a week.
Brandon: How long after the procedure should a man expect to find the transplanted follicles growing new hair?
Dr. Bauman: It takes about a week to heal from the procedure. It takes 6 to 12 weeks for hair to start to grow. Half of the transplanted follicles have visible growth after 6 months. The rest fill in after a year.
Brandon: What percentage of the transplanted follicles tend to successfully grow new hair?
Dr. Bauman: 99% of the transplanted grafts grow hair—this is an improvement from the 80s and 90s, which is due to the way we have learned to take care of the grafts during the transplantation process (like with PRP platelet rich plasma, etc.).
Brandon: How much does a typical beard transplant cost? Are there different pricing packages?
Dr. Bauman: It costs $10 per follicle graft. Most cases include 500 to 1000 grafts (which makes the procedures between $5,000 and $10,000).
Click to enlarge – This is a comparison of the transplant healing process. The left image is the donor area 24 hours after follicle extraction. The right is the same donor area after healing for one week. Photo by Alan Bauman. Used with permission.
Brandon: Tell me about the men that come to you for help. What are their reasons for having a beard transplant?
Dr. Bauman: Some ethnic groups (Asians, for example) have sparse beards, and these men are looking for a fuller beard. Latinos value their mustache as a sign of masculinity, so they come in to get thicker mustaches. Others are looking to modify the shape of their facial hair, like thicken the width of their sideburns for example. Still others are looking to vertically “connect” the top and bottom areas of the goatee. Sideburns can often get distorted when men have facelifts, so sideburn restoration is a common request from the “Palm Beach” set.
Brandon: Are there any products men can use, whether over the counter or by prescription, to encourage new beard growth, or to help beards grow thicker, longer, or faster?
Dr. Bauman: You can enhance hair growth with over-the-counter supplements like Biotin, Viviscal, and BaumanMD Hair Vitamin Complex. Laser therapy can also be used on your beard for increased quality. Even minoxidil treatments like prescription Formula 82M can be used on the beard area.
Brandon: Can beard growth be hindered by a person’s diet, or by stress, or other external factors?
Dr. Bauman: Absolutely. We’ve seen areas of alopecia occur in people with allergies or high stress. And, of course, you need good nutrition to grow good quality hair. Period. Hair follicles are highly metabolic and therefore sensitive to changes in nutrition.
Also, here’s a little known fact: we can harvest beard hair follicles to replace scalp hair and cover scars on the scalp.
Dr. Bauman: I’m not familiar with that brand. However, good nutrition is critical for hair growth. We’ve certainly seen increased body hair quality and quantity with some treatments. You can even enhance beard (or body hair) using minoxidil.
Beard transplants are a fascinating new science. I, for one, am glad that the procedure has advanced to the point where scarring is minimal to non-existent, and that the recovery is so quick. I’d like to thank Dr. Bauman for participating in this interview. If you’d like to contact Dr. Bauman, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit this page to request a beard transplant consultation. You can learn more about his practice at www.baumanmedical.com.
What are your thoughts on beard implants, now that you’ve heard from a professional? Share your thoughts in the comments, below.